25th party planned
CHB Rugby and Sports Club will be turning back the years over Queen's Birthday weekend to celebrate a major milestone.
When the Central premier men's rugby team runs out against Taradale in their third round Maddison Trophy clash at Central Park on Saturday, June 2, they will be wearing the team's original harlequin jerseys to celebrate the amalgamated club's 25th anniversary.
The commemorative jerseys, the same as those worn by players in the club's first game in 1994, will then be auctioned off after the game as a fundraiser for the club in its 25th season.
Before the game, explayers, coaches, administrators and members will gather at the clubrooms for a meet and greet event on Friday night.
On Saturday there will be a Sponsors' Day, Club Day and 100 club all rolled into one starting with the juniors on Central Park from 9am, with special guests enjoying a barbecue while watching the club's reserve and premier teams in action, followed by a night of celebrations including the jersey auction.
While the amalgamation of the proud Waipawa United and Waipukurau High School Old Boys' rugby clubs might still rankle some die-hards to this day, club president Tony Mackie said it was important to mark the milestone.
“It's quite difficult as a new club to build history – and we certainly lost a lot of history with the merger of the two clubs. But this is a good step towards building up that history and putting a marker in the ground for the next 25 years and onwards,” he said.
He was looking forward to many of the club's characters, past and present, reconnecting over the weekend to share some good stories and to “tell a few lies” about their on and off-field exploits.
“Results are important, but friendships are more important. That's the reason why you play rugby and get involved with a club,” he said.
With both clubs struggling with player numbers in the 1990s, Mackie said the decision to amalgamate was made to ensure least one CHB club could continue to field a premier and reserve grade team in Hawke's Bay's top club rugby competition.
“The other important factor was to stop players from heading to Napier and Hastings in the belief they had to go there to play premier rugby. And we've done that very well,” said Mackie, pointing to players like All Black, Brodie Retallick, though he conceded the merged entity had been powerless to combat the problem of dwindling player numbers — an issue for the code nationally.
Ross Angus, who first played seniors for Waipawa
United in 1959 as schoolboy, was on the original amalgamation committee and became patron of CHB Rugby and Sports in 2006 following the death of Jim McCormick.
Angus said that, while there was evidence that not all quarters were fully behind the amalgamated club, it had succeeded in its most important aim of maintaining a CHB presence in the Nash Cup and Maddison Trophy competitions, as well as providing a pathway for local players to go on to higher honours.
“We hoped that amalgamation would attract all the better players [to Central] but each community has been a little bit parochial and maintained their own teams, but in saying that, on our club honours’ board there’s probably more than 20 players over the 25 years who have gone on to play for the [Hawke’s Bay] Magpies.”
David ‘Snow’ Petersen was the last chairman of Waipukurau High School Old Boys. He said he and his Waipawa United counterpart, Bernie Story, were initially faced with stiff opposition but eventually 75 per cent of members of both clubs voted for the amalgamation to go ahead.
“There was a lot of club pride and that meant that they were reluctant to give up their identity. But neither club was in a position to provide a premier team because there weren’t enough players, so that’s why we drove it. But it was still a big call,” he remembered.
Life member and immediate past Central president Peter Fleming explained the club’s original playing strip of the black, yellow, green and red harlequin jersey with white collar and blue shorts reflected the different colours of the district’s various clubs: Waipukurau HSOB (black and white); Waipawa United (yellow and black), Takapau (red and black), Porangahau (green and black) O¯ tane (green and black) and the defunct Waipukurau club (blue and white).
After the harlequin jerseys, there were several variations of the strip before the club’s current colours of royal blue and red — representing the red of the CHB sub-union and the blue of the club’s feeder secondary school, CHB College — were adopted in the mid-2000s.
The club has paid for 22 of the harlequin jerseys made for the celebrations, which are currently being auctioned on the club’s Facebook page.
The auction will be suspended on Friday night and then resume at the after-match celebrations at the clubrooms on Saturday. For details and to RSVP for the Friday night meet and greet, running from 7pm11pm, and the supporter’s barbecue on Saturday afternoon, people must email email@example.com by May 28.
ORIGINAL STRIP: Waipukurau High School Old Boys’s rugby club’s last ever president David “Snow” Petersen, CHB Rugby and Sports life member, Peter Fleming, club president Tony Mackie and club patron Ross Angus, with one of the commemorative harlequin...